Saturday, December 7, 2019

The most powerful mob boss in the world

American has long been fascinated by movies about gangsters. To date, there have been well over 100 produced. The best of the bunch can be found at the link below:

The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part II are generally considered to be the best movies about mobsters, but there are plenty of others on the list that are also worth watching.

Due to the Kefauver hearings of 1957, most people are at least dimly aware of the names of the 5 New York crime families – Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Columbo, and they are also likely familiar with a guy named Whitey Bolger.

The heads of the various crime families were all powerful men. Although many of them have long since passed on, there IS one man alive today who is more powerful than any of them.

Without disclosing his identity (until later) I’d like to give you a timeline of events that will provide a clue as to who this guy is.

1)    On June 8, 2019, 59 year old White House insider, David Goldberg, was found dead in his New York apartment. His claim to fame was that he predicted the Iran False flag operation. Friends of Mr. Goldberg were given access to his accounts before his passing. They will be maintaining them, and posting new information as it comes in. At this time, they are reviewing many documents in Mr. Goldberg’s possession, some of which appear to be top secret government documents.

2)   On August 10, 2019, Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York City.
On July 23, 2019, three weeks prior to his death, Epstein was found unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck. Epstein believed that he was attacked by his cellmate, who was awaiting trial for four counts of murder, while the correctional staff suspected attempted suicide. After that incident, he was placed on suicide watch. Six days later, on July 29, 2019, Epstein was taken off suicide watch and placed in a special housing unit with another inmate. Epstein's close associates said he was in "good spirits".

When Epstein was placed in the special housing unit, the jail informed the Justice Department that he would have a cellmate, and that a guard would look into the cell every 30 minutes. These procedures were not followed on the night of his death.  On August 9, 2019, Epstein's cellmate was transferred out, and no new replacement cellmate was brought in. Later in the evening, in violation of the jail's normal procedure, Epstein was not checked every 30 minutes. The two guards who were assigned to check his jail unit that night fell asleep and did not check on him for about three hours; the guards falsified related records. Two cameras in front of Epstein's cell also malfunctioned that night.

3)   On November 19, 2019, Thomas Bowers, a Deutsche Bank executive who approved various loans that the bank had approved for Donald Trump, committed suicide in his home in Malibu, California.

4)   On December 4, 2019, Melania Horcharenko, who worked at the U.S embassy in Ukraine, was found dead in her home in Maryland. She left her position in the embassy a few days after Marie Yovanovich was recalled. Horcharenko was privy to virtually every incident that was mentioned during the impeachment hearings (including the July 25 phone call). Due to her intimate knowledge of many of the events in Ukraine, she is suspected to be the whistle blower who first called the transactions there to the attention of the intelligence community in our country. Horcharenko was set to be deposed behind closed doors sometime next week due to the classified nature of her work in Ukraine. 

As proof that emotions are running high on both sides of the impeachment story is the fact that Jonathon Turley, the constitutional law expert who testified AGAINST impeaching Trump has received a barrage of threats against him. Both his home and his office have been inundated with threatening messages, and demands that he be fired from George Washington University.

The common thread to all 4 people, of course, is that they have some connection to Donald Trump.

The most recent mobster movie that has been release is “The Irishman”, which features performances by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The film follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a truck driver who becomes a hitman involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family, including his time working for the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).

“The Irishman” tells the story of some real-life mobsters (one of whom apparently killed Jimmy Hoffa), but here is the unsettling part:

Donald Trump personally knew all of the mobsters portrayed in the movie, and his connection to mob figures goes back 30 years. 

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Trump’s buildings and his casinos attracted underworld figures like “Fat Tony” Salerno, the Fedora-wearing, cigar-chomping boss of the Genovese crime family. Salerno, who’s portrayed in the film by Domenick Lombardozzi, supplied the fast-drying concrete that built Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Salerno also controlled the local concrete workers union, and when a strike shut down construction in Manhattan in 1982, the one of the few buildings that wasn’t affected was Trump Tower.

In 1983, the year Trump Tower opened its doors, the future president reportedly met the Genovese family boss. The common thread linking Salerno and Trump was Roy Cohn, the infamous lawyer who represented both men. Cohn, the heavy-lidded henchman to Senator Joseph McCarthy, introduced the two men in his Manhattan townhouse, according to the late journalist Wayne Barrett. Under oath, Trump swore that wasn’t true, but he also swore that he didn’t know that Cohn represented Salerno, a fact that had been widely reported in Cohn’s obituary a few years earlier.

And it’s not just Trump who has links to the world depicted in The Irishman. It also overlapped with some of the figures in Trump’s world, past and present. Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime political adviser, also met Salerno when he visited Cohn’s Manhattan brownstone.

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, also crossed paths with Salerno as New York’s top federal prosecutor in the 1980s. Giuliani was obsessed with Salerno. “Tony was the Tip O’Neill of the underworld and would reside forever in Rudy Giuliani’s mind,” wrote the legendary New York columnist Jimmy Breslin. Giuliani went after Salerno with such zeal that the mobster’s defense attorney complained that the prosecutor ″has made it his personal mission to bury my client.″

In March 1986, Giuliani announced that a grand jury had indicted Salerno and others on charges that included rigging construction bids. Trump Plaza, a co-op apartment building on Manhattan’s East Side, was specifically mentioned in the 29-count indictment.

When Giuliani says he has “insurance” on his famous client, is it to Trump’s connection to the lost word of The Irishman that he’s referring?

Omertà (/oʊˈmɛərtə/, Italian pronunciation: [omerˈta]) is a Southern Italian code of silence and code of honor that places importance on silence in the face of questioning by authorities or outsiders; non-cooperation with authorities, the government, or outsiders; and willfully ignoring and generally avoiding interference with the illegal activities of others (i.e., not contacting law enforcement or the authorities when one is aware of, witness to, or even the victim of certain crimes). It originated and remains common in Southern Italy, where banditry or brigandage and Mafia-type criminal organizations (like the CamorraCosa Nostra'Ndrangheta and Sacra Corona Unita) have long been strong. Similar codes are also deeply rooted in other areas of the Mediterranean, including rural SpainCrete (Greece), and Corsica, all of which share a common or similar historic culture with Southern Italy.
It also exists, to a lesser extent, in certain Italian-American neighborhoods, especially in neighborhoods where the Italian-American Mafia has strong influence, as well as in Italian ethnic enclaves in countries such as GermanyCanada, and Australia, where Italian organized crime exists. Similar codes of silence have been observed in Jewish-AmericanGreek-AmericanAfrican-AmericanHispanic-American, and certain working class Irish-American neighborhoods. Retaliation against informers is common in criminal circles, where informers are known as "rats" or "snitches".

Another key element of omerta is loyalty.

You may remember that former FBI director, James Comey, was asked for his loyalty to Trump exactly one week after the inauguration ceremony. According to people who know him well, Trump’s definition of loyalty is blunt. “Support Donald Trump in anything he says and does,” Roger Stone, the president’s longest-running political adviser, told me. “No matter what,” former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res said. “Or else,” added Louise Sunshine, a friend of Trump for nearly 50 years. “I think he defines it as allegiance,” biographer Tim O’Brien told me. “And it’s not allegiance to the flag or allegiance to the country—it’s allegiance to Trump.”

Donald Trump does not get along very well with many world leaders, but consider this fact. The man that he respects the most is a guy who used to run the KGB in Russia.

I’m not sure if that means that he is actually a mob boss, but I am of the opinion that it is the best description of the man who lost the 2016 presidential election by 3,000,000 votes, in spite of the help provided by his friend in Moscow.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

In heaven there is no beer ….

Which is why we drink it here.
"In Heaven There Is No Beer" is a song about the existential pleasures of beer drinking. The title of the song is the reason for drinking beer while you are still alive. The song in German is "Im Himmel gibt's kein Bier", in Spanish, "En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza".  It was originally composed as a movie score for the film Die Fischerin vom Bodensee, 1956, by Ernst Neubach and Ralph Maria Siegel The English lyrics are credited to Art Walunas.
Atongo Zimba recorded a version as well as Dr. Demento.The song was the inspiration for the title of the 1984 film and 1985 Sundance Film Festival winner, In Heaven There Is No Beer? which also featured the song "Who Stole the Kishka?" A version with different lyrics, titled "Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii" ("There Is No Beer in Hawaii") was performed by the German singer Paul Kuhn in 1963.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all sung the song a few times – and it didn’t really matter if we were singing it off key, because everybody was off key too. However, here’s a question that none of us ever asked.
Does heaven actually exist?

Not everyone thinks so.
At some point during the year, I read a book where the author theorized that heaven was a concept made up by early leaders of the Catholic church to keep its followers in line. It’s no secret that the Catholic church, and leaders of other churches, use the concept to ensure that the folks in their congregation adhered to at least some semblance of piety and righteousness, but here’s a surprise.
Heaven was NOT an invention of the early Christian church.
 According to one source, heaven was actually invented by the Jews in the 2nd century B.C., but it is Christianity that developed the strongest notion of heaven and hell. It is the New Testament that takes the snake from the Genesis story and creates the evil force known as the devil. Elaine Pagels, in her book, The Origin of Satan, gives her explanation of the elevation of this force of evil called the devil.
 If you dig further, though, you’ll discover that the concept of heaven actually goes back to the time of Plato, a Greek philosopher who lived in the 3rd century B.C..
 So, how do we know that heaven exists, and that there really isn’t any beer there?
Easy. Just ask somebody who’s been there.

Thousands of people have experienced what is called a near-death experience. near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. When negative, such experiences may include sensations of anguish and distress. NDEs are a recognized part of some transcendental and religious beliefs in an afterlife.
There have been at least a dozen  books published about the afterlife, but the most convincing one is “Proof of Heaven’, by Eben Alexander, M.D., which I actually read a few years back.

Near-death experiences, or NDEs, are controversial. Thousands of people have had them, but many in the scientific community have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those people.
A highly trained neurosurgeon who had operated on thousands of brains in the course of his career, Alexander knew that what people of faith call the “soul” is really a product of brain chemistry. NDEs, he would have been the first to explain, might feel real to the people having them, but in truth they are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then came the day when Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by an extremely rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human— shut down completely. For seven days Alexander lay in a hospital bed in a deep coma. Then, as his doctors weighed the possibility of stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is by all accounts a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
This story sounds like the wild and wonderful imaginings of a skilled fantasy writer,but it is not fantasy. Before Alexander underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. That difficulty with belief created an empty space that no professional triumph could erase. Today he is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
In the movie “Caddy Shack”, Bill Murray winds up being the caddy for the Dali Lama himself. At the end of the round, the Dali Lama does not give Bill Murray a tip, which prompts Bill Murray to ask why not.

The Dali Lama’s response was this:

“Oh, I can’t give you any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness”.

Murray’s response was “So I got that going for me.  Which is nice”.

At some point in time, I’m likely to achieve total consciousness, but I’m going to miss the beer.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

So, what IS a mortal sin?

Since I attended a Catholic grade school and a Catholic high school, I was well versed in the fact that you did NOT want a mortal sin on your soul. During my grade school years, we would pray for the pagan babies, who were (almost by definition) anyone who was not Catholic. As a matter of fact, the official teaching of the Catholic church, until the Vatican Council of 1962, was that the ONLY people who could get into heaven were Catholics. During the same time period, Lutherans were taught that only LUTHERANS could get into heaven, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized that NEITHER argument was entirely correct.

Thoughts about mortal sin crept into the news the other day due to the actions of a Catholic priest in South Carolina (Father Robert Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina), who refused to give communion to Joe Biden because of his stance on abortion. Biden, a devout Catholic, was asked about the matter on Tuesday during an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, but said he did not want to discuss the situation.

For the record, Biden was a sponsor of the 1974 Hyde amendment, which prevented taxpayer money for abortions. He is personally opposed to abortion, but does not feel that it is proper for him to dictate his beliefs to others, a position that I agree with.

Joe is not the only Catholic who feels that abortion should be legal in most cases. In fact. so do 56% of the Catholics in America. Party affiliation, of course, also has a bearing. The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaders support legal abortion (91%), as do three-quarters of conservative and moderate Democrats (75%). 

Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (77% vs. 22%).

Father Morey is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the truth of the matter is that his refusal was actually a political stunt - which is why he invited the local press to attend the service.

Since 42 priests in South Carolina have had credible accusations of child sexual misconduct made against them, you would think that the church would prioritize THAT instead of Joe Biden, but I guess that ‘s wishful thinking.

 In order to commit a mortal sin, the three following elements  must be simultaneously present:
1.    grave matter, the moral object or content of the action is seriously evil;
2.   full knowledge (or full advertence)- one knows what he or she is doing, and its serious evil content;
3.    and full or deliberate consent – one accepts or tolerates what he or she is doing.

So, what IS a mortal sin?

Here is a brief list,  which is tied to the Ten Commandments:
1ST Commandment: I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
·         Polytheism and idolatry
·          Superstition which also expresses itself in various forms of divination, magic, sorcery and spiritism.
·         Irreligion which is evidenced: in tempting God by word or deed; in sacrilege, which profanes sacred persons or sacred things, above all the Eucharist; and in simony, which involves the buying or selling of spiritual things.
·         Atheism which rejects the existence of God, founded often on a false conception of human autonomy.
·         Agnosticism which affirms that nothing can be known about God, and involves indifferentism and practical atheism.
·         See Compendium 445; CCC 2110-2128; 2138-2140
2nd Commandment: You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
·         Blasphemy, curses, unfaithfulness to promises made to God, false oath, perjury. Compendium 447-449; CCC 2142-2149; 2160-2162
3rd Commandment: Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.
·         Not going to Holy Mass during Sundays and Holy days of Obligation without a just motive (e.g. sickness); See Catechism 1389
4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
·         Negligence, infulfillment and indifference of the obligations/responsibilites towards one’s children, parents and siblings
·         hatred; ingratitude; disrespect; disobedience in matters concerning the material and spiritual well-being; 
·         negligence and indifference in the education in virtue and in faith of one’s children.
·         See Catechism 2114-2118;2221-2229
5th Commandment: You shall not kill.
·         direct and intentional murder and cooperation in it;
·         direct abortion, willed as an end or as means, as well as cooperation in it. Attached to this sin is the penalty of excommunication because, from the moment of his or her conception, the human being must be absolutely respected and protected in his integrity;
·         direct euthanasia which consists in putting an end to the life of the handicapped, the sick, or those near death by an act or by the omission of a required action;
·         suicide and voluntary cooperation in it, insofar as it is a grave offense against the just love of God, of self, and of neighbor. One’s responsibility may be aggravated by the scandal given; one who is psychologically disturbed or is experiencing grave fear may have diminished responsibility.
·         See Compendium 470; Catechism 2268-2283; 2321-2326
6th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
·         Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual actions. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave.
·         Direct sterilization, contraceptionartificial fecundation
·         adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free unions (cohabitation, concubinage), and fornication or sexual acts before or outside of marriage
·         See Compendium 492, 498, 502; Catechism 2351-2359; 2396; 2370-2372; 2380-2391, 2400
7th Commandment: You shall not steal. 
·         theftdeliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraudpaying unjust wagesforcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another;
·          speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; 
·         corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law;
·         appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoicesexcessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation. (CCC 2409)
·         slavery (2414)
·         disordered desire for money (CCC 2424)
·         withholding wages (CCC 2434)
·         immoderate love for riches and their selfish use (CCC 2445)
8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
·         Lying (in some cases CCC 2484), false witness and perjury (CCC 2476), rash judgment, detraction, calumny (CCC 2477) , adulation (CCC 2480), violation of the sacramental seal (2490) and divulgation of professional secrets (2491)
·         See Compendium 523-524; Catechism 2475-2487; 2507-2509;
9th Commandment: . You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
·         The ninth commandment forbids cultivating thoughts and desires connected to actions forbidden by the sixth commandment.
·         See Compendium 528 ; Catechism 2517-2519; 2531-2532
10th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
·         This commandment, which completes the preceding commandment, requires an interior attitude of respect for the property of others and forbids greed, unbridled covetousness for the goods of others, and envy which is the sadness one experiences at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself. See Compendium 531; Catechism 2534-2540; 2551-2554

According to Catholic doctrine, you should not partake in communion if you are in a state of mortal sin. If you take a close look at the above sins, you’ll realize that VERY FEW Catholics should receive communion on a given Sunday, and here is why:
3rd Commandment: Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.
·         Not going to Holy Mass during Sundays and Holy days of Obligation without a just motive (e.g. sickness); See Catechism 1389
According to the most recent Gallup poll, only 39% of the Catholics surveyed had attended mass the previous week, which means that 61% of the Catholics who went to church should not receive communion unless they went to confession first.
6th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
·         Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual actions. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave.
·         Direct sterilization, contraceptionartificial fecundation
·         adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free unions (cohabitation, concubinage), and fornication or sexual acts before or outside of marriage

The Results Are In: First National Study of Teen Masturbation. Just 63% of younger boys of reported masturbating at least once, but that figure increased to 80% among 17-year-olds. For girls, the percentage rose with age from 43% to 58%. For boys and girls, masturbation was linked with an increased likelihood of oral sex and intercourse. As a result, only 20% of teen boys who are 17 or older should receive communion.

According to the Washington Post, 98% of Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives, which leaves only 2% of the Catholic women who  should receive communion. 

Catholics do better than other religions when it comes to divorce, but that still makes 28% of them ineligible for communion.

Receiving communion is an important past of the mass, but what exactly IS communion?

The Eucharist is another name for Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper. The term comes from the Greek by way of Latin. It means "thanksgiving." It often refers to the consecration of the body and blood of Christ or its representation through bread and wine.
In Roman Catholicism, the term is used in three ways: first, to refer to the real presence of Christ; second, to refer to Christ's continuing action as High Priest (He "gave thanks" at the Last Supper, which began the consecration of the bread and wine); and third, to refer to the Sacrament of Holy Communion itself.
Various Christian denominations view the eucharist differently.

In the Catholic church, only those who are confirmed Catholics can receive communion. Catholics who are more conservative feel that only PRACTICING Catholics can receive communion. According to Pew Research, about half (52%) of all U.S. adults who were raised Catholic have left the church at some point in their lives. A significant minority of them returned, but most (four-in-ten of all those raised Catholic) have not.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church allows anyone who is baptized (even if in another Christian faith) to receive the eucharist. The Missouri Synod Lutheran church requires participants to turn in a post card affirming that they are follow the teaching of that church before receiving communion. (For the record, the one time that I went to a Missouri  Synod church, I received communion – but did not turn in a post card.)

In 2016, Donald Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, captured 52% of the Catholic vote, despite the fact that he is guilty of at least 25 of the mortal sins listed above.

Although Joe Biden may have been disappointed by not having received communion at he church in South Carolina, he is not likely to change his core beliefs because of it.

Like politics, religion is another one of the those topics that we are always going to disagree about. In my opinion, the best approach is simply to live and let live. We should respect the opinion of others, even if we disagree with them, and they also are obligated to respect ours.

It’s really that simple.